Jose Bautista. Robinson Cano. Carlos Beltran. Raul Ibanez?
One of those names doesn’t quite fit in, and it’s not difficult to see why. After all, the Seattle Mariners aren’t exactly a team known for its sluggers, and even if you were to ask most folks to think of the best producers on the team, it’s unlikely that Ibanez’s name will be the first one to emerge amongst a group that includes Michael Morse, Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales.
In fact, with just 243 PA on the season, the veteran doesn’t even qualify among the leaderboards … which is to say that his power numbers might even be more impressive when compared to the stars around him.
Now, while Ibanez is still not exactly what you’d call a ‘good’ hitter given his .246/.292 BAA/OBP, it’s is .544 slugging percentage in 2013 that’s really opening eyes in Seattle in 2013. This is especially true considering that his season started out with a .511 OPS April with just a pair of home runs.
Since then, however, he’s been on the mother of all power tears. First notching seven home runs in just 67 PA in May that gave him a ridiculous .703 slugging percentage and an unsustainable 29.2 percent HR/FB rate, he then went on to not only sustain, but actually improve it with 10 homers over 107 PA in June, good for a 30.3 percent rate.
Who says Safeco Field is a pitcher’s park?
If you were wondering why the Mariners have a guy with a sub-.300 OBP man as its no. 3 hitter, you’ve got your answer right there. With already 19 homers on the season, the non-qualified Ibanez is in a 10th place tie in the bigs, and has more home runs in significantly fewer opportunities than the likes of Mark Trumbo, Evan Longoria and Jay Bruce.
The 41-year-old (!) already has at many home runs as he did in 2012 in less than half the games and at this rate, he’s poised to smash his career mark, currently going at a 40-plus home pace.
And no, even if he is hitting fly balls at a career-high 44.4 percent rate, this kind of craziness with those batted balls is not going to continue through the rest of 2013. But the bigger indictment? The fact that he’s only a 0.5 fWAR player to date thanks to a subpar defense (-7.0 fielding runs above average) and poor hitting numbers outside of the power.
So while the Mariners are enjoying the more-than-modest success that Ibanez has had with the long ball … let’s just say that things could turn on a dime rather quickly when those fly balls stop leaving the park.